Every Day, Janitor Walks 2.5 Hours on Foot to Get To Work until Colleagues Find Out about It – Story of the Day
Jason walked 2.5 hours every day to get to work because he couldn't afford a new car. After many years, a colleague offered him a ride, and a few days later, a strange woman did the same. Then she and his colleague gave him the shock of a lifetime.
Jason Berry was on his way to work as always. He started working as a janitor at a high school at 25, and almost 20 years had gone by since. He was now 45 years old.
Usually, it would take 40 minutes to drive from his house to the school, but the only car he had ever owned was his dad's old Fiat, and it broke down when Jason was 30. Since then, he has walked to work, which takes two and a half hours.
Jason walked a long distance every day to get to work. | Source: Shutterstock
It wasn't so bad. He was used to it by now, although it wasn't easy on rainy days. He listened to music on a used iPod and considered it his exercise for the day. It also gave him time to take about everything in his life and all he had gone through.
At 13, his parents unexpectedly disappeared after taking a trip, and Jason went to live with his aunt and uncle. They were friendly people but already had five kids of their own, so money was already tight when Jason came along. He worked odd jobs here and there to afford his things, and he even managed to help out at home.
But his teenage years were hard. He began to resent the world and rebelled terribly. His friends were not the best people, and Jason got caught with them during a stupid school prank. They were all expelled from his school.
That's when he woke up. He was almost 18 at the time, and his hopes of making a better life for himself were gone instantly. He couldn't do that anymore and found a proper job as a pizza maker in a store.
When he was finally of age, he moved into his parents' old house, but since it had been abandoned for years, it needed some serious repairs. He also had to pay a mint in inheritance taxes, so his life seemed even crazier.
He had no time to study for his GED, and eventually, he forgot about it. He just read books at night when he wasn't tired from work.
Jason became the janitor at a high school. | Source: Pexels
At 25, he accepted a job as a janitor at school because the pizza place where he worked went out of business. It was only a slight pay increase and had a few benefits. The downside was that it was 40 minutes away from his hometown in Alabama.
He used his dad's old car to commute until it broke down five years later. That's when he started walking 2.5 hours to work and 2.5 back home. He barely had time for anything after such a long commute, but he had no other choice.
His job was peaceful, and he liked seeing the kids with all their potential and dreams for the future. Although he often wished that his life would've been different, it gave him hope.
Suddenly, a car stopped beside him. Typically, there weren't many vehicles driving around because he commuted ridiculously early to get there on time every day, so he was surprised by this turn of events.
At first, he thought it might be Mrs. Garrison, the science teacher who had stopped by much the same way a few days earlier. She offered him a ride and asked if his car had broken down. Jason laughed heartily at that statement and told her his vehicle had been dead for 15 years.
"Really?" she asked in marvel. "So, you walk to work every day? How long does it take?"
"About two and a half hours," Jason responded.
"What? You can’t be serious!" Mrs. Garrison said in shock.
Mrs. Garrison offered him a ride one day and marvelled at his long commute. | Source: Pexels
"I am," he continued, smiling at the kind teacher who had always treated him as a colleague and never anything less.
"That's insane… and remarkable, of course. You must be in great health, then," she added, laughing breathlessly.
"I guess," Jason replied, not knowing what else to say. It was nice to get a ride to school.
They got to school, and Mrs. Garrison gave him a bright smile. "You can ask me for a ride any time. At least, to a bus stop or something," she offered.
"Oh, I would have to take so many different routes on a bus that it's such a waste. Also, most of them don't even get close to my house. Walking is much easier," Jason explained. "But thank you for the offer. I might take you up on it sometime."
Although he said that, he knew he would never ask for such a favor. He didn't want to be a burden to anyone. If someone offered, he would accept it, but he would not make the first move.
Some of his other colleagues asked him about the matter that day, and he confirmed his long daily walks. They all marveled at his work ethic, but Jason was glad that they didn't judge him for not being able to afford a car.
Now standing by the road, another person stopped beside him, and it was not Mrs. Garrison. It was a stranger — a much older woman — but she had the same kind smile as his teaching colleague.
A stranger stopped next to him in her car. | Source: Pexels
"Where are you going, young man?" she asked, rolling down the window as she halted her car beside him on the road.
"I'm going to the high school. It's nearby," Jason answered, bending to look at the woman directly.
"What a coincidence! I'm going to the school too. Why don't you come with me?" the woman offered.
"Oh, no, ma'am. I couldn't trouble you like that," Jason responded, shaking his head but grinning at the woman.
"It's not trouble at all, and you can guide me because it's actually the first time I'm going there," the woman insisted.
"Well, it's really easy. You just go down straight through this road, and you'll find the signs. There's really no way to miss it," Jason explained, gesturing toward the street.
"Please," she begged. "Please, come with me. It'll make me feel better to think that I helped someone today. I haven't done my good deed for the day. Please!"
"Alrighty, then," Jason finally accepted because he didn't want to be rude to the kind woman. Also, his feet could use a break.
The ride to the school was quiet except for the lady's music — Chuck Berry. Jason hummed along and enjoyed the unmistakable sounds of his guitar.
They arrived at the school, and he directed her towards the parking lot. | Source: Pexels
"Do you like Chuck Berry?" the older woman asked him.
"I enjoy his music from time to time. We share the same last name," Jason revealed.
"Hmmm," the woman said, but she was smiling for some reason.
"I've never seen you at school. Are you applying for a teaching position?"
"No, I have some business over there today, and I'm hoping to deliver some great news to someone special," she answered.
Jason nodded, not wanting to pry into her private business. They drove in quiet peace for the rest of the drive, except when Jason had to guide her through some turns. She could've done this alone.
"You can leave me here, please," Jason indicated, and the woman stopped. "The parking lot is right over there. It should be open already although it's early."
"Thank you, young man. For everything."
"No, thank you for the ride," Jason said in return.
She smiled up at him from her car window and said, "I hope to see you soon."
Jason's day was almost up when Mrs. Garrison came to find him. | Source: Unsplash
"What a kind lady," he said to himself as he entered the building and went to the janitor's closet to get ready for the day.
His working day was almost finished, and Jason had already decided to change when Mrs. Garrison came to find him. "Mr. Berry, can you come to the library with me? There's something we need you for," his colleague requested.
Jason smiled at the woman. "What happened? Do I need a mop?" he wondered.
"You better come and then decide what you need," she explained and walked away, expecting him to follow. Jason thought her message was odd but went along with her.
When they got to the library, Jason saw the principal, Mr. Garcia, several other teachers, a few students, and, surprisingly, the woman who had given him a ride that day.
"What's going on?" he asked, not knowing whether to smile or to worry about his job.
Mr. Garcia stepped forward from the crowd and patted his shoulder. "Nothing's going, Mr. Berry. We just have something for you," he began. "Mrs. Garrison told us about your situation, and even some of the students found out."
Jason couldn't believe what they did. | Source: Unsplash
"Your daily commute," Mrs. Garrison chimed in.
"Oh," Jason muttered, not knowing what else to say. He wasn't exactly happy that everyone at school had discovered it. But it wasn't a secret either. "I still don't understand."
"Well, our tech and online savvy students created a GoFundMe for you," Mr. Garcia revealed, although Jason had no idea what that was. "Here."
The principal handed him a check, and Jason's mouth popped open. He stared at the number written at the top and couldn't believe it. It was for $10,000.
"What is this? What's a GoFundMe?" Jason asked, his mouth still open in shock.
"It's a crowdfunding site. Basically, people post about good causes and others donate as much as they want. The link was shared around, and it reached the goal," Mrs. Garrison explained. "You can buy a decent car with that money."
Jason's eyes watered, and he shook his head as if it wasn't real.
The old woman who had given him a ride stepped forward. | Source: Pexels
"But that's not all," Mr. Garcia continued. "There's someone here who saw the link we posted online. She donated and started asking questions about you. This might be an even bigger surprise than the check."
Suddenly, the lady who had given him a ride stepped forward with a tentative smile and began her tale. "Years ago, my husband and I went on a vacation to an island far away from here. But our small plane crashed. We survived but lost everything we had, including our IDs, passports, and money."
Jason frowned at her. He had no idea why she was telling him any of that. But he wanted to keep listening.
"Well, my husband got sick shortly after. Luckily, some local residents found us, but sadly, he didn't make it. Since I had no ID or anything, there was no way to get back home. I had to live on that island for decades because there was no embassy and no way for me to leave. But I finally made it back a few months ago, and I was looking for someone important," the lady continued.
Jason stared at her, his heart pounding in his chest. He thought he knew where this was going, but he couldn't be sure. He didn't want to hope for something that great.
She saw a post online that gave her clues. | Source: Pexels
"I finally got in touch with my sister and her husband, but they didn't know where my son was. I didn't know how to find you until that post showed up on my Facebook page. The post stated where you lived and where you worked. I had no idea you would still be living in our old house. I thought my sister would've sold it to raise you," she continued, tears streaming down her face.
Jason couldn't hold his own emotions any longer.
"My name is Rachel Berry. My husband was Charles Berry, and you… you're my dear Jason," she revealed, making Jason close his eyes in pain and joy. Everyone around them was in tears by that point as well.
"Aunt Silvia said you probably died, but yeah, she gave me the house and moved to Utah shortly after I turned 18," Jason said, choking on his words.
"Can I hug you?" Rachel asked, extending her arms and pursing his lips.
Jason could only nod and raise his arms to hug his mother for the first time in over 30 years. Everyone clapped at this touching reunion.
He finally got everything he dreamed of for years. | Source: Pexels
When they separated, Jason thanked each person at the library for the money and for making this situation possible.
He eventually bought a decent car but continued working at the school. The only difference was that his mother moved back into their home.
She encouraged him to study and get his GED, and he finally did it after a few months. He enrolled in night classes at the local college and earned his degree in literature, as books had been his hobby for such a long time.
When he graduated, Mr. Garcia offered him a job at that very same school.
What can we learn from this story?
- Never give up because you can overcome anything no matter what. Jason didn't quit his job even when it took 2.5 hours to get there. It's the best example of perseverance and overcoming all your obstacles.
- It's never too late to achieve all your goals. Jason finally got his GED and a college degree later in life, proving that it's never too late to start over and achieve your dreams.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a teacher who lived in her car for months until her co-workers found out.
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